The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun rolling out a large-scale public service campaign, “Start Talking. Stop HIV,” aimed at men who have sex with men (MSM), with the goal of reducing new HIV infections in the high-risk population.
The campaign, created by private agency Brand-Aid, began in South Florida, which has high rates of new infections. From there, the plan is to use gay pride events to spread the message: “Your life matters and staying healthy is important.” To that end, the campaign says, communication is key.
According to the Start Talking page, it “seeks to reduce new HIV infections among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men by encouraging open discussion about a range of HIV prevention strategies and related sexual health issues between sex partners. Effective partner communication about HIV can reduce HIV transmission by supporting HIV testing, HIV status disclosure, condom use, and the use of medicines to prevent and treat HIV.
“Though they only represent 2% of the overall population, gay and bisexual men—including those who inject drugs—account for over half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States (57%, or an estimated 657,800 people), and two-thirds of all new HIV infections each year. A 2011 study in 20 U.S. cities with high AIDS prevalence found that 18% of gay or bisexual men had HIV. That’s about 1 in 6 men. Of those men, 33% did not know they had HIV…
“No matter the type of relationship, communication can be key to finding the right prevention strategy that works for you and your partner.”
Start Talking’s Campaign Materials page has a wealth of information to download, including Talk Cards, Palm Cards, and a Safer Sex Cheat Sheet. For those interested in spreading the word more than just one-on-one, there is also a campaign brochure, website banners, and posters.